Knowing which offenses are fantasy friendly is helpful when deciding between potential additions to your team. For example, I would rather own James Jones or Tom Crabtree of the Green Bay Packers, than Chaz Schillens, Konrad Reuland or any of the other “skill” positions on the New York Jets.
First we must define what makes an NFL offense “fantasy friendly”:
- A high octane offense that produces gaudy numbers for all skill position players.
- A balanced offense, where defences must respect both the pass and run
- An offense that doesn’t rely on any one player and can absorb the loss of any individual
- A coaching staff that is intent on putting up lots of points.
- Your defence gives up lots of points, forcing the offense to remain aggressive
1. New England Patriots – The Patriots run most of their plays out of two tight end formations. They not only run the ball, but they throw deep, intermediate and short routes from these sets, which allows them to disguise their plays very easily. This has led to a league-leading 439 yards of offense each week. The opportunities in this offense are seemingly limitless. New England has at least 3 running backs, 2 tight ends and 3 wide receivers that get involved each week. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady make a point of spreading the ball around and this offense can sustain major injuries (Brady in 2008), which makes it our most fantasy friendly offense of the 2012 season.
2. New York Giants – The Giants offense is fantasy friendly because they are able to turn a middling running back, receiver or tight end into a stud on any given Sunday. Whether it be Andre Brown, Ramses Barden, Dominik Hixon or Martellus Bennett, the Giants have a QB and system that is capable of turning water to wine. New York also sports one of the weaker secondaries in the league, which means that Eli and the boys are usually forced to keep throwing aggressively late into games.
3. Atlanta Falcons – Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has installed a fast-paced and explosive pass-first system and his players love it. Matt Ryan ranks 2nd among quarterbacks with 110 fantasy points. Roddy White and Julio Jones are both viable WR1’s every week. Tony Gonzalez has re-discovered himself and is putting up numbers reminiscent of his days in Kansas City. Michael Turner has continued to give this offense good balance and even backups such as Jacquizz Rodgers and Harry Douglas have seen a boost in their numbers under Koetter’s offense. The potential disaster that awaits if Matt Ryan gets injured, is the only thing keeping Atlanta out of the top-2.
4. Houston Texans – The strength of this group is their offensive line. We could put a high school running back behind this o-line and he would put up decent numbers. Led by left tackle Duane Brown and centre Chris Myers, the Texans’ zone blocking rushing attack is hands-down the most devastating in the league. This makes life very easy on their passing game, as play-action passes become very effective. We know the Texans can sustain any major injury, as despite the loss of their two first string QB’s, Houston still made it to the AFC divisional round last year. The somewhat conservative approach on offense and a shutdown defense which ends games early is what holds this team back from the top-3.
5. Green Bay Packers – The Packers would be in the top three, had it not been for the play of their offensive line. They have allowed the 2nd most sacks in the league thus far and Aaron Rodgers has been sacked on 10% of his drop-backs. This o-line also affects the Packers’ running game which is ranked in the bottom half of the league with 97 yards/game and 2 rushing touchdowns. Although there are plenty of viable options at receiver in this offense, the o-line limits them to be the 5th most fantasy friendly offense.
6. Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning does not play favourites within his offense, which makes this a fantasy friendly offence. They have good balance with their rushing attack, as a determined Willis McGahee has forced defences to respect him. The concern with this group, is that they are relying on Peyton Manning to make this an explosive group. The jury is still out on whether Manning is the same QB as he was in Indy, which is why we can’t have Denver any higher on this list.
7. San Diego Chargers – As long as Norv Turner is calling plays for the Chargers, they will be a relevant fantasy offense. Turner locates the weaknesses in a defense and exposes them as well as any coach in the league. There is good balance in this offense – seen when Ryan Mathews missed the first 2 weeks of the season and Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley were able to hold the fort in his absence. The Chargers defence also has enough holes in it to keep Philip Rivers and the boys busy.
8. Baltimore Ravens – OC Cam Cameron likes to take chances down the field (much to the displeasure of Ray Rice owners) which means this offense puts up lots of yards. The Ravens rank 9th in the league in passing yards and they possess one of the most devastating run-blocking offensive lines in football. They are the reason guys like Bernard Pierce can be effective backups. Thus, there is great balance in this offense. The defence that has taken a step or two back in recent years, forcing the offense to remain aggressive late into games.
9. New Orleans Saints – Despite their 1-4 record, New Orleans still possesses a fantasy-friendly offense. The terrible play from the Saints defence is actually what makes this offense so fantasy-friendly this year. The New Orleans defense is giving up over 30 points per game, forcing Drew Brees and the offense to have a one-dimensional but very effective offense. The Saints lead the league with 326 passing yards per game but that has pushed the rushing attack to the background. Their 75 rush yards per game rank 27th in the NFL and are the reason New Orleans isn’t any higher on this list.
10. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys offense is full of star power and as we learned in Week 1, it can produce some unlikely stars too. This offensive line is fantastic in pass protection – only 8 sacks through 4 games – but terrible when it comes to run blocking. The main victim of this inexperienced o-line is Demarco Murray, who has not seen many good rushing lanes. Murray has just one game with over 45 rush yards and he has not ripped off a run longer than 11 yards in the last 3 games.
First three out:
11. Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles have been hampered by turnovers from their QB Mike Vick and the offensive line suffered a huge loss in Jason Peters before the season. The Eagles defence is keeping games close which doesn’t help the fantasy prospects of their offensive players.
12. San Francisco 49ers – Jim Harbaugh has some of the most innovative and effective run blocking schemes in the league, but this offense is too conservative to be in the top-10.
13. Detroit Lions – When Matt Stafford goes down, Shaun Hill doesn’t miss a beat with this offense, which speaks to offensive co-ordinator Scott Linehan’s high-powered system. Their focus on Calvin Johnson, takes away from the fantasy value of others, holding Detroit out of our top-10.